Even if he has yet to spend quality time with the iECO Green Warriors, Tiras Wade is optimistic of his new team’s chances against the Xinjiang Flying Tigers when they face off on Thursday in the Asia League’s The Terrific 12.
Wade arrived in Macau from Guangzhou, China on Wednesday afternoon to replace Richard Howell, who went down Tuesday night in their game versus the Ryukyu Golden Kings as he hurt his left ankle and left knee badly.
“Anything can happen,” he said.
True enough, anything can really happen in basketball. On Wednesday night, the Flying Tigers suffered a big blow to their campaign as Al Jefferson will not be able to play in the cagefest anymore, no thanks to a dental condition.
Xinjiang head coach Brian Goorjian himself revealed the unfortunate news after the Flying Tigers’ loss to the Ryukyu Golden Kings, where the 14-year NBA veteran did not suit up even if he was able to arrive in Macau also on Wednesday.
“Eyes will be on him [Jefferson], he’s probably the biggest name, him and Mo Speights,” said Wade.
iECO’s match with the Chinese ball club is a no-bearing affair, however, as Ryukyu’s victory over the Flying Tigers meant that they swept Group C and are now bound for the semifinals, which will be on Saturday, September 22.
Still, all eyes are on that clash, with many wondering how the newly-formed Green Warriors will fare with the Flying Tigers, who won the Chinese Basketball Association crown back in 2017 with Andray Blatche as their import.
For Wade, he believes that the advantage is with the Filipino dribblers chemistry-wise, saying that the Flying Tigers have yet to build themselves as a solid unit as their preparations for the next CBA season have only just started.
“They’re just getting together and the opportunity is great,” said Wade.
But more than the chemistry, what Wade really sees as an advantage is iECO’s athleticism and their ability to catch fire – the latter has yet to be seen, though, but they have run hot before in their tune-ups in Manila with PBA teams.
“Athletic-wise, that’s why I feel good playing with a Filipino team because I don’t have to worry about stuff like that. Athletic-wise, we’ll be fine. It just comes down to how we play,” said Wade, who played for Talk N Text in 2009.
“I know being familiar with Philippine basketball, if we catch fire, we catch fire and it’s definitely going to be a game. I wouldn’t be surprised if we take the win.”